Manipur rights activists welcome SC order to probe staged gunfights
Imphal, July 14 (IANS): Human rights activists in Manipur welcomed the Supreme Court’s Friday directive ordering a CBI probe into alleged cases of staged shootouts in the state. “I welcome it,” said Babloo Loitongbam, director of the Human Rights Alert, which had along with an association of families of missing persons, filed a writ petition in the Supreme Court in 2012 seeking trials of the 1,528 cases of staged gunfights.
The plea was jointly signed by N. Neena, president of the families’ association and me, Loitongbam told IANS. He however sounded a note of caution saying that the ball is in the court of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) director who will set up a 5-member SIT to look into the cases. “It is too early to celebrate,” he added. Welcoming the directive, advocate and human rights activist Rakesh Meihoubam said: “Though much delayed, justice will prevail now.”He noted the case of 12-year-old Azad Khan, who was gunned down in presence of his parents and villagers and a hand gun planted at the site to label him a “militant”. An infuriated judge had reportedly asked how a 12-year-old student could be a militant, he added. Meihoubam, who is also director of Human Rights Law Network Manipur, hoped that in due course, other cases will also be heard. However, he expressed concern that since the cases are old, “some of the evidence may be lost by now”. He said that the Supreme Court issued a 16-point directive which, among other things, says that the police and security forces personnel involved in fake gunfights that saw loss of human lives should be suspended and their firearms seized.